GalCiv II Ultimate Edition: Is Quite Cheap

It really is. For the alterna-prices of $10/£6.21 you, a person who owns a computer, could get GalCiv II and its expansion packs – on Impulse, obviously. Why would you want to do such thing? Well, in short, it’s a brilliant strategy game that has few peers in the gaming world. It’ll indulge your galaxy-grabbing fantasies like no other. In long? Well, PCG’s Tom Francis has that covered, at length. Great length. Anyway, go get it, unless you already have it. Or you don’t like strategy games. You freak.


  1. Ginger Yellow says:

    That Francis article/book is one of my favourite pieces of games writing ever.

    • jonfitt says:

      Mine too!

      All hail our conquering rabbit overlords!

    • Grunt says:

      Mine, too. Think I have it saved in a .doc somewhere….:)

    • dragon_hunter21 says:

      I think StarDock can credit Tom for at least my $10. Read those articles a few months ago, loved them, and planned to get the game. I do love a sale.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Oh my; that Francis diary is rather good. I’m almost tempted to pick GalCiv2 up and try to make the Culture as a custom race.

      GCU Where the fuck is it, you fucks?! fits nicely in with the rest of their ship names, too. :D

      (Incidentally, I’ve heard that some racial traits make some custom races hilariously overpowered. Confirm/deny, and which traits are these? Simple curiosity, of course… >_>)

    • DarkNoghri says:

      One of the Francis diaries pretty much single-handedly (well, that and the nice stand on DRM) convinced me to buy the game a while back. At full price, or extremely close to. This is notable, because I VERY rarely purchase games at full price (40$+). I didn’t even know much about the game at the time that I can recall. I still haven’t played it much.

      But those diaries were amazing.

  2. Malcolm says:

    I really liked GalCiv II, but apparently my skillz were insufficient as I would get to the point in the campaign where the Dread Lords appear and they would then hand my my arse on a plate :( I suck.

    • Collic says:

      I’ve never bothered with the campaigns; the sandbox game is far more fun imo. I think the dreadlords can still show up in a normal game, but it’s reasonably rare, and often far easier to deal with in the context of a typical game.

    • Veret says:

      Beating the Dread Lords is all about massing huge numbers of pathetically small, cheap ships. Go check out that Tom Francis article, re: the unstoppable Peace Bee. Seriously, go read it.

      Colic’s right about the campaign; don’t bother. But Dread Lords still show up in sandbox games sometimes, so be ready for that.

  3. Hippo says:

    I’d love to see Francis cover Distant Worlds. That game is like a do it yourself kit for space operas.

  4. Biggles says:

    Gah, that sounds like an excellent bargain, but I’m scared I will play it far too much, forget to eat or sleep or wash and be disowned by everyone I know or love and die a miserable lonely death surrounded by my own filth and delusions of intergalactic grandure…

    This is why I can only play quick, shallow, pick up and play games now.


    • Grunt says:

      It does tend to get a bit absorbing. I played a sandbox game over a weekend once, and actually took the Monday off work to deal with an Empire to the north that was continually pestering my border worlds. I lost that day’s pay but taught that annoying empire a thing or two, ooooooh yes!

  5. Deanb says:

    So how does it play?
    The name suggests like Civilization, which if that’s the case then ‘Civilization in Space’ would be something worth dropping £6 on (£6 on Civ last week too, should be more than enough to fill in summer)
    But if it play like Sins, well I already have Sins.

    • riadsala says:

      Plays quite like how you’d imagine Civ in Space to play.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Yeah, it does play a fair bit like Civ, except that the diplomacy and AI are much more interesting, and the economy can be tricky until you know what you’re doing. Also it has customisable ships (so more like Alpha Centauri, or obviously something like Sword Of The Stars). You’re much less likely to research the whole tech tree in a single game, as well.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Actually, the obvious answer to your question is: go read the Tom Francis piece. It’s brilliant writing, and gives a great feel for how a large game plays out, although he is playing a tad perversely.

    • cyrenic says:

      @Ginger Yellow

      A tad? Hahaha

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Well, he almost gets it to work, doesn’t he? I was amazed he managed as well as he did – I’d have got nowhere near as close to the goal.

    • DMJ says:

      Youv’e got to respect a power-crazed brainwashing dictator who, when he realises that the mass hypnosis won’t work, has the courage and integrity to fall back on exterminatus tactics.

  6. pimorte says:

    The link to the second part of the diary is broken.

    +1 internets for the first person to find it.

    • Mister Adequate says:

      Funny enough I wanted to read this just the other day and I tracked it down then. Here you are good sir;

      link to

    • Boldoran says:

      Oh yes I read the diary some months ago. When I could not find the second part I nearly went insane. I had to know how it ended. Unable to give up I searched in every corner of their archive and after spending way too much time i finally found it.

      I think some misanthrope delibaretly hid the second part to mock everyone who falls for the bait that is the first part. He should pay for the agony. I say off with his head.

  7. Out Reach says:

    I went and bought gal civ 2 the day I read Plan B by Tom Francis :)

    It’s awesome sauce. It’s fun just setting up your own weird objectives and trying to complete them. Once I aimed for a galaxy wide population of 1 trillion :D I did it.

  8. Wednesday says:

    Ahhh, one of my absolute favourites! Imagine a version of Civ IV, only better, more complex, and with combat that does not suck the big one.

    One of the finest games ever produced, and I’m usually a sucker for big-budget blockbusters.

  9. BooleanBob says:

    Great game. Hands up everyone who made/tried to make a warship shaped like a willy.

    • Down Rodeo says:

      I conquered most of a galaxy with the “Space Phallus”, so named because of its tiny main body with giant laser attachments. In the end it was superseded by the “Bitch”. Is spreading mid-level laser tech around the entire galaxy for free then researching high-level shields harsh? I’m not sure it is. Barely lost a ship though! I then proceeded to culture-hug everyone to death.

    • Arathain says:

      @ Rodeo: what a brilliantly ingenious plot.

      *takes notes*

  10. Magrippinho says:

    I’d totally shell out for DLC that would somehow transcribe Tom Francis-style commentary for my GalCiv sessions.

    • Smithee says:

      If I recall correctly (it’s been a few years!) one of the expansions was originally intended to include an after-action report generator, which would flesh out the game with a semi-randomly generated gameplay history and postscript. The last I saw of it, it was barely in beta and no where near Tom Francis quality. Stardock dropped it from the expansion pretty quickly due to it being beyond what Mr. Wardell &c could realistically do an still get the rest of the expansion out on schedule.

  11. Pew says:

    It was all that Master of Orion 3 was not. So many nights wasted/well spent…

  12. piphil says:

    Gal Civ 2 Ultimate is also available in a 4-pack with Sins of a Solar Empire, Space Assault and Darkstar one for around £10-15 from places like Game, should you, like me, not have access to a decent net connection.

  13. cyrenic says:

    I never got quite caught up in any of the Civ games I tried (granted I haven’t got around to trying Civ IV yet), but Galciv2 hooked me almost immediately. Great AI, factions that play out quite differently (with the last expansion anyway), and funny writing.

  14. Subject 706 says:

    What a great read that article was. It also sold me on the game. Future space genocides await!

  15. Quirk says:

    There are arguments to be had both ways over whether this or Alpha Centauri is the best 4X ever made. Personally I think I come down on the side of Galciv 2; I found its late game less fiddly and its unit creation is much richer. If you’re at all interested in the Civ-like genre, you really ought to have a copy of this already. If you don’t, it’s your lucky day.

  16. Dan (WR) says:

    Does anyone know if this works ok on an NC10 or similiar netbook? I’ll probably buy it anyway, but it’ll make great commute-fodder if it does.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Was just about to post that for me it just didn’t run (on any of the netbooks I have access to, two EEEs of different types and an NC10) but then I came across this:

      link to

      I don’t have time to download the game onto a netbook at the moment, but could be worth a go. Could also be a bit of a pain in the arse when playing, though.

  17. Cooper says:

    About to buy. One question. Anyone had any luck running this on a netbook? Or knows where I can find details about the requirements.

    I’m using a Samsung NC10 wtih 1024 x 600 resolution

    Also, those Francis diaries were bloody brilliant

    • Cooper says:

      I seem to have posted the exact same question as the person above. Go me and my inability to read.

      Found out that the minimum resolution is 1026 x 768. You -can- get these resolutions to run on a 1024 x 600 screen with scrolling – I’ve been trying this for Civilization III – but it gets bloody annoying very quickly having to scroll around the screen to get to bits of the UI.

      I’m gonna give this a miss until I get back home then.

  18. Dreamhacker says:

    Too bad it couldn’t surpass Master of Orion 2.

    • Damien Stark says:

      I really, really wanted to like GalCiv II more. I’ve even bought it twice, and don’t feel bad doing so – Stardock and Impulse are both worth encouraging.

      It just feels so… bland? Indirect?

      Laser 1, Laser 2, Laser 3 instead of spears, pikes, bows? Generic Entertainment Building v1 replaced by Generic Entertainment Building v2, instead of Libraries or Theaters?

      I feel bad complaining about it, and have trouble putting the details into words, but I quit after a couple hours feeling like I’d rather play Civ IV or MOO 2. I dream of a game that combines those two, and this isn’t it.

  19. Heliocentric says:

    Gal civ is a good game i can’t stand to play.

    3 reasons, combat which amounts to pushing numbers about. Logistics/support which feels more like your mum telling you that “you can play just outside the garden but no further”. And tech trading that you can shark so much that not sharking it would be stupid.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      You just described Neptunes Pride.

      Whether that’s a good or bad thing I don’t know.

    • Vinraith says:

      That last problem is pretty much totally resolved by the “no tech brokering” option in the newer expansions.

    • nullspace says:

      I played a lot of GalCiv 2, but it ended up really annoying me for the same reasons Heliocentric gave. (Also some balance issues and interface frustrations.)

      I don’t regret buying the game and each of the expansions for full price, and at this price it’s worth it just for the ship editor. But it’s not quite a game I’ll play forever.

      And for any newbies playing the game: when a planet’s morale is 100%, its population growth is double. I don’t think this fact is mentioned anywhere in the game, but it’s a huge boost to your early economy.

  20. lanster27 says:

    Yep, so I bought it. Then I tried to launch Impulse, and I can’t connect to server. Then I remembered why I didn’t buy it in the first place.

  21. Rei Onryou says:

    Deputy Editor Tim called just now to ask how this diary was coming along, and all I could say was “It’s taking a while. Couldn’t we just destroy the sun?”

    This sums up the diary for me. Loved it loads and made me laugh like an idiot.

    I’ve been meaning to play GalCiv2 since I read it, but alas, it still sits on my shelf, tempting me to fuck stars.

  22. Malibu Stacey says:

    I want to play this game so badly. If it was on Steam it’d be an instant purchase.
    Guess it may finally be time for me to jump on the Impulse train too.

    • Arathain says:

      Impulse is a fine service. I like Steam as much as the next person, but it never stopped me from using the other services. Don’t let it put you off.

  23. GreatUncleBaal says:

    Bugger – I’ve just invested in Distant Worlds (after hoping for a long time for an offer like this for GalCiv 2) and am trying to figure that out, but this is still very tempting. Trying to learn two 4x space games at the same time may cause tragic overheating of my brain.

  24. Sarlix says:

    I know how you feel Mr Biggles, I would be the same. How about we make a pact? You get to play it for one week and everyday I will pop around to see if your still alive, give you a few slaps (for clarity) then hose you down and throw some nourishment in your general direction. Mean while I will be working two jobs (mine and yours) so you don’t get the sack, and at the end of the week we switch over and you do the same for me. What do you think? huh?

    • Sarlix says:

      Oh wow, super duper reply fail. This is not my fault! I lost the partitions on my hard drive today and am typing this from a Linux Live CD.




  25. jonfitt says:

    Here is the problem I had with GalCiv2 though:

    The minor weapons/drive/shield upgrades came thick and fast, and being a part-time compulsive min-maxer I would then want to upgrade my ship designs. That would then lead to 10 minutes of playing around in the ship editor to change my designs from Hyperdrive 1 to Hyperdrive 2. Then a few turns later Engine 3 to Engine 4. Or life support 1 to life support 2….
    I would spend more time doing that than was healthy.

    Then there’s the problem that your fleet is always a mess of obsolete tech.

    I would have liked one of the following things to happen:
    1) The default ship designs should auto generate a selection of prime combinations. As it is you rarely get a new default design.
    2) Perhaps the minor upgrades would automatically affect all of your ships which contain that tech, as a part of their upkeep. Then only brand new tech would require a new deisng/refit.

    • Vinraith says:


      #1 was implemented in the most recent expansion, you can now have the AI design ships for you.

    • jonfitt says:

      I’ve always had Dread Lords but have never seen that. I will have to go back and play more GalCiv2 now!

    • jonfitt says:

      Whoops. I mean I’ve always had Twilight of the Arnor. All of the packs, whatever they’re called!

  26. jonfitt says:

    Message redacted

  27. jsutcliffe says:

    Does anyone know how long this offer is valid for? I want to do a bit of research into whether it’ll run on my laptop, which has a Radeon HD 3200.

    • Wahngrok says:

      Since it runs well on my five years old laptop which has a Radeon Mobility X1300 you should be fine.

    • Vinraith says:


      Stardock considers scalability to low end systems a design priority, and Gal Civ 2 is a few years old now, so I think it’s very unlikely you’ll have a problem.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @Vinraith & Wahngrok

      Excellent, that’s the answer I was expecting, but I’m glad I was correct.

  28. DollarOfReactivity says:

    Awesome. Just got the Ultimate Edition since it’s cheaper than buying just the expansions. I’ve been waiting ever since reading Tom’s diaries a few months ago for a sale.

    This reminds me how poor Impulse still is as a marketplace. It’s improved a lot over the years, but how does anyone actually find something to buy? It took careful searching just to uncover the GalCiv sale (wasn’t listed in sales, bundles or strategy and couldn’t search for it), and trying to find the GalCiv expansion bundle – more painful. You wouldn’t find it if you weren’t looking for it. I recall trying to get info on the SOASE expansions and that being royally frustrating. Please Stardock, fix your UI/store/search engine! :(

  29. karry says:

    “it’s a brilliant strategy game that has few peers in the gaming world.”

    The crappiest 4x i’ve ever seen. Disgustingly bad interface and logistics controls. Uninspired and uselessly extensive but blandest research tree ever. Oh, and i will never forgive Stardock for completely superficial ship editor. I find it deeply offensive when some nimrods actually think THIS PIECE OF CRAP is better than Civ4 OR SMAX.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Hehe, Civ 4.

    • The Telemetrics of Robert Francis Bailey says:

      It really depends what you want from your 4x – I have to say that while this game is pretty damn solid, there’s plenty about it which grates: most of this stemming from my personal opinion of what a open ended space sandbox should allow (ive more of a taste for John Blanche’s warhammer 40k/ Dune-esques (EOTDS anyone?) universe(S))
      But such ia gripe is basically irrelevant as its entirely subjective. Still , this remains one of the best space-faring 4x titles ive ever played, but it does on occasion feel a little too soulless and game-ey which tends to kill immersion. Oh and for the record: the ship editor was a great idea – slightly awkwardly implemented and lacking any theme other than a (dare i say it) WOW bright an’ cartoony, but a great way of adding creativity and that extra amount of user interaction (which is an awesome idea in a 4x where you are essentially building YOUR dream empire) On that note – can anyone recommend matrix games Distant Worlds? As it is ive been kept at bay by the $50 price tag and reports that its a paid-beta. Can anyone give me a nudge?

      Apologies for wall of text and feeding the troll.

  30. Tom OBedlam says:

    Right… I’ve bought the game and Impulse has been trying to download it all day. It gets to 100%and then starts back at zero again. Any ideas anyone?

  31. jeremypeel says:

    I’m only a third a way of the way through the diary and this is already a guaranteed purchase for me.

    Only question is, do I play this first or Civ 3 (Still £2.99 on Steam, folks)?

    • Collic says:

      THIS! (just remember to go outside occasionally)

    • Vinraith says:

      Why wouldn’t you just get Civ 4 and be done with it? Pretty much anything 3 does, 4 does better.

    • jeremypeel says:


      ‘Cos I’d also be compelled to buy all the expansions, leading to me spending about 41 squids more, were I to buy on Steam. Unfortunately budgetary constraints and in-built laptop tech loom large over my game purchasing at the moment.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Also, @ Collic

      Does outer space count as outside?

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      You just missed out on the Civilization 4 complete pack being around £6 last weekend on Steam.
      Probably listed somewhere on if you’re interested in seeing if it’s still available (don’t think it was listed in the bargain bucket).

    • Vinraith says:


      Civ 4 Complete (all the expansions, plus Colonization) has been on sale for $10 several times across a multitude of outlets over the last few weeks. I’ve no doubt it’ll come on sale again soon. There’s really no reason whatsoever to pick up Civ 3 at this point, no matter how cheap it is.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Excellent news, in that case I might just wait for a Civ 4 sale to come around. Colonization would be a lovely bonus as well.


  32. autogunner says:

    ive always taken the lucky trait and get constantly gifted superpowered spaceships when someone attakcs my pathetically overpowered fleets. its good because weapon research is so dull compared to the other branches, and researching weapons to the exclusion of all else means you just have to use them, which sets you on a conquest victory

  33. Karl says:

    Wow, all the options. I have just started a game and it looks like a huge time sink. The races selection reminds me a bit of Ascendency, another great classic, albeit much more simple.

    I had a bit of a problem to get the game running, though, until I realized I had to switch to single display in Windows 7.

  34. scharmers says:

    The thing that always breaks GalCiv 2 for me is how late-game they put planetary invasion. MOO2 had it a little better to where you could possibly get planetary combat in the mid-game, but all of MOO2’s “imma gonna steal ur planet” stuff is at the far end of the tech tree. Usually some arsehole has a ascendency victory (usually the Torians, and yes, I know you can turn it off) before the really vicious planet-nuking gets going.

    • Vinraith says:


      What are you talking about? Planetary Invasion is literally three techs from the beginning of the tree. It goes Galactic Warfare (researchable from the start of the game), then Space Militarization, then Planetary Invasion. With PI you can build troop transports and invade and capture planets. If you’re really hellbent on it it’s not hard to get it long before you’ve had time to build enough of an early-game fleet to be able to use it.

  35. itsallcrap says:

    There’s only really room for one hour-munching space strategy game in my life, and I like Sins of a Solar Empire.

    However, I did notice that this is down to £7.01 on the same site:
    link to

    I dutifully stumped up the cash, as I pirated it the first time round in case it was no good. It is, in fact, very good.

  36. Pod says:

    Impulse can suck a dick!
    Installed fine yesterday. Noticed that it’s using the windows 7 theme even thought I have all that stuff turned off. Whatever. Let it download…

    turn on the old computer after getting back from work, and I can’t resume the download. Apparently I’m not logged in?

    I can’t even find an option to log in or anything. [I think I’ve since found it, tucked away in the stupid Win7 like menu]. After going through all the tabs and just waiting a while it seems to now know that I’m logged in and then I could finally resume. So I let it carry on downloading. I choose to do something else with my time, because why would I want towatch a progress meter slowly go up?

    So I’m playing TFC and suddenly my computer starts chugging away — it turns out Impulse thinks it’s a grand idea to start automatically installing the game after download it? What?!

    I’m annoyed that I had to quit playing TF2 because of some shitty software. I’ve never used Impulse before but it’s getting dangerously close to “Direct2drive” territory of being the worse thing I’ve ever used.

  37. toastmodernist says:

    @Tom O’Bedlam

    The getting to 100% and then restarting thing happened to me. I fixed it by setting a new install directory, worked first time after that.